Managers often overlook practical steps they can take to create a more productive work environment. Here are four things to try (sorry, have to do all of them for this to work) that will change your week for the better-- I promise.
- Cancel all standing meetings (staff, project status, coordination, etc.) that you know won't have substantive changes since last week. As you hit "cancel this occurrence" listen for the soft cheers coming from the cubes. Clearing your staff's calendars upfront helps open their minds to alternative activities.
- Pick a milestone or big deliverable from your team's current project(s) that could theoretically be done in a week-- though it'd be a stretch. Do a wee bit of advance planning, then call a special (short) meeting Monday morning to lay out the challenge. Don't risk your credibility by inventing a fake, externally-driven deadline. Instead, you can introduce this by simply saying, "Hey, we'd all benefit from knocking out this (INSERT BIG TASK NAME) this week. We'll have a chance to change this up, work a bit differently, and get some needed momentum going into the next phase."
- Mix up the staff who typically work together. Do this in a way that makes sense and explain that you're looking for fresh ideas to come out of the reconfigured working groups. Set your expectations by sharing that the objective is for the new teams to spark ideas with each other that wouldn't otherwise happen with more familiar co-workers.
- Schedule a brief-out, followed by a celebration for Friday afternoon. Convey your confidence in everyone's ability to pull together to accomplish great things. You're so confident, if fact, that we're going to go ahead and schedule a meeting with the client/executive/investor to share what we've done. Afterwards, people can blow off some steam and marvel at the tremendous power of focus.